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Tony’s Chocolonely

Crazy about chocolate, serious about people.

During a visit to Amsterdam in February 2020, I discovered Tony’s chocolate store with large collection of flavors. I bought every single one to sample over the next few months.

Coffee Crunch

Framboos Knettersuiker

Wit

Honeycomb Tijm

Pretzel Toffee

And an American version:

Noga

Kurkuma Chai Kokos

Karamel Zeezout

Hazelnoot

Candy Cane

Gingerbread

Melk 32%

Kaneelbiscuit

Puur 70%

Donkere Melk 42%

New England Gravel Routes

My favorite gravel bicycle routes in New England.

The majority are hard packed dirt & stone dust, comfortable with 32–35mm tires. There is always the occasional rocky rooty sections. These should be short connections.

There are some route ideas that I have not explored yet. I do not know their surface condition, equipment required, or valid route map. Use at your own risk.

This post complements three others for:

Index

This selection & more available on CRW gravel library.

Maps

I used a variety of sources to find these routes. Many were from friends. Others confirmed via one or more of these maps:

Across Lexington

Mixed terrain on local trails: single track, paved paths, roads, & double track routes. All within Lexington town limits.

Recorded 2 May 2020 13:20 on Garmin & Strava ➡️60.17km ⬆️589m ↗️9.8m/km ⏬KML & GPX:

These loops, one or combination of them, are excellent trail running options.

Nearby trails to explore:

  • Weston trails mixed terrain
  • Western Greenway between Belmont & Waltham: technical adventure ride, only 1.5 miles of pavement, can be done on an adventure bike, some may prefer MTB. Includes several long climbs, often steep, and some steep descents.

Minute Man

Revolutionary war tour starting at Lexington Green to Battle Road through Minute Man National Park. Continue to Concord town center for ice cream at Bedford Farms, rest at Concord green, books at Concord library, history at North Bridge, or lunch at Trail’s End café. Across the street is a trail to Bedford that connects with the western terminus of Minuteman Bikeway back to Lexington center.

Recorded 30 July 2020 18:12 on Garmin & Strava ➡️28.88km ⬆️114m ⏬KML & GPX:

Raid Rockingham

Full day on extended gravel & paved trail sections. Started from train station in Lawrence mostly on paved trails with a few gravel sections to Manchester.

Picked up the Rockingham rail trail, very well maintained for 50km, stopped at historic train depot, through tunnels, & by ponds. Stopped at Me & Ollie’s bakery in Exeter. Continued to Amesbury for connecting trail to Newburyport for train back home.

Recorded 28 November 2020 7:49 on GarminStrava ➡️128.83km ⬆️659m ↗️5.1m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

Plan to explore two other options in the area:

Central Massachusetts

All of these are on the list to explore. I am familiar with many sections of them, but had not attempted these routes in the planned routes.

The one highest on the list is a loop to the rail trails around Keene with optional visits to covered bridges:

I had been on most of this route during travel from Brattleboro through Keene & Winchenden to Fitchburg MBTA train station. Route log recorded 9 July 2011 12:32 on Garmin ➡️89.13km ⬆️655m ↗️7.3m/km ⏬KML & GPX. Paved loop with visits to covered bridges is also available.

No list is complete without a visit to the Quabbin Reservoir. I am not familiar with most of these trails. Not sure how technical they are. Need to explore further.

One route completes a loop:

Another visits the trails nearby:

Ride Studio Café Live Free

Continuous scenery on very quiet roads, mostly smooth gravel, no technical sections, some long climbs, & very few services.

Route log recorded 12 July 2020 5:34 on Garmin & Strava ➡️104.77km ⬆️1,450m ↗️13.8m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

Kearsarge Klassic routes nearby are worth exploring:

Further north in the lakes district, Rick recommended this loop from Moultonborough:

Green River

Picked scenic routes & interesting stops in the area around Connecticut River. Started from Brattleboro Food Co-op for breakfast & Creamery covered bridge. Gravel roads started after crossing into Massachusetts & Green River covered bridge:

Long climbs were rewarded with long descents, farms, apple orchards, & quiet roads with little traffic. Returned to Connecticut River through historic Deerfield.

Lunch options were available in Greenfield, including 2nd Street Bakery. Continued for cookies at The Lady Killigrew Café. Stopped for view of French King bridge before fast sprint back to Brattleboro. Finished the day with Vermont hard cider, & Cajun chicken sausage gumbo at Top of the Hill Grill.

Gravel sections in first half of this route based on Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnée (D2R2) event hosted by Franklin Land Trust with many distance & route options. Route log recorded Friday 14 June 2020 9:49 on Garmin & Strava ➡️131.28km ⬆️1,488m ↗️11.3m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

Several more routes in the area available part of the event D2R2—The Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnée.

Vermont Northeast Kingdom

This classic Vermont view. All day.

No better place to start than chocolate croissant, sourdough flax seed bread, & flourless chocolate cookie from King Arthur Flour. Fall colors everywhere we could see. Maintained gravel roads that made up 80% of the route were easy to roll on.

The price was serious climbs of 22.5m/km. To put it in perspective, LAMB gaps route had 17.2m/km. Loop around Mount Greylock came close at 21.4m/km. I had to look far back at the Grandes Alpes trip average 22.9m/km for 691km, including the toughest day at 29.2m/km for 99km included Cormet de Roselend.

Route log recorded 3 October 2020 5:43 on Garmin & Strava ➡️124.21km ⬆️2,796m ↗️22.5m/km ⏬KML & GPX. Very few services on the route for food & water. Mobile phone reception was not reliable.

Three other gravel routes in the area are high on my list to bicycle soon:

Northern Rail Trail

One way from Concord to Lebanon, NH. Wonderful day, all on trail, inside tunnels, across bridges, & by historical sites.

The trail turned out to be in excellent condition, well maintained, clear, hard packed, & suitable for my gravel bicycle, with 32mm tires.

Refer to trip report for details.

Route log recorded 12 August 2017 11:25 on Garmin & Strava ➡️113.75km ⬆️393m ↗️3.45m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

Le P’tit Gravel Train

The idea is firm. Route is very much work in progress.

The route starts in Mont-Tremblant in Québec, south to Montréal, Lake Champlain islands, Burlington, across Vermont, across New Hampshire, to finish in Portland. Take Amtrak train back to Boston.

It should be about 50% gravel.

Expect to plan as a trip with CRW club in July 2021, once border is open with Canada.

VTXL

Big adventure across the length of Vermont.

High on the list to complete in 2021:

Green Mountain Growler

This extraordinary loop weaves a selection of storybook-farm dirt roads, flowy New England singletrack, and rugged historic woodland paths to create a circuit of some of the world’s best and most coveted craft beers.

Ride Studio Café MANEHA

Overnight mixed terrain. We only had to carry day supplies. Generous support along the way. RSC shuttled camping gear to private farm where drinks & buffet warm dinner was waiting for us after a long hard day.

Recorded 9 May 2015 5:14 on Garmin ➡️195.02km ⬆️2,552m ↗️13.1m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

The return trip was just as fun: single track, double track, goat trails, rail trails, & roads. Recorded 10 May 2015 6:27 on Garmin ➡️192.55km ⬆️1,722m ↗️8.9m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

Rhode Island

I received recommendations for two routes that pretty much cover the same area.

One from GCN presented by Jeremy Powers. The description is confusing: “Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required.” yet “Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.”

The other recommend by Cory:

Trains, trails, & gravel to NYC

Started early on commuter train from Boston to Worcester. Route was almost entirely on trails, most of them smooth gravel rail beds. Boarded Metro North train from New Haven to NYC.

Finished the day with the Charging Bull & Fearless Girl of Wall Street.

Recorded 6 November 2020 4:23 on Garmin & Strava ➡️218.26km ⬆️1,317m ↗️6.0m/km ⏬KML & GPX. This gravel route was a better option compared with earlier Harvard to Yale tour. Working on a paved route from Providence to New Haven.

Battenkill Valley

Not exactly New England, in New York across the border from Vermont. But the scenery, farms, lush green, rolling hills, & gravel roads can be easily mistaken for some of the best routes in Vermont.

Route log recorded 30 August 2020 7:54 on Garmin & Strava ➡️105.09km ⬆️1,4091m ↗️13.4m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

Finish the day with a glass or four at Argyle Brewing Company: Coffee Porter, Raspblurry Ale, Saratoga Cider, & Cute Little Blonde.

Mount Washington Weather

Many warnings have been written about walking in the White Mountains, especially to Mount Washington “Home of the World’s Worst Weather.”

How best to forecast the weather in the region? What sources provide most accurate data?

I started this project in late winter 2020 when I planned to walk the Presidential Traverse. Proper data collection started on 1 April 2020 from three sources:

I then compared it with actual weather data from MWO to calculate accuracy.

The data is specific to Mount Washington. In most cases, it gives a good idea about conditions of nearby peaks:

  • Temperature
  • Wind

Data in charts below current as of 28 February 2021 based on 72 measurements since 1 April 2020.

Temperature

Temperature forecast seems reasonably within acceptable range across sources. A variation of ±5ºF is expected during the day at various elevations.

Most accurate & least skew is from Mountain Forecast for 24 hours in advance.

SourceStandard Deviation [ºF]Skew [ºF]
24 hours temperature forecast:
Mountain Forecast4.3-1.3
NOAA5.2-1.8
MWO4.8-1.4
48 hours temperature forecast:
Mountain Forecast5.20.5
NOAA6.3-0.5

Skew calculates the skewness of a dataset, which describes the symmetry of that dataset about the mean. In the data above, both NOAA & MWO forecast colder than actual temperatures 24 hours in advance, while both Mountain Forecast & NOAA forecast warmer than actual temperatures 48 hours in advance.

Wind

Wind seems much more variable. A standard deviation of 12mph is high risk. MWO provides least deviation looking at forecast 24 hours in advance:

SourceStandard Deviation [mph]Skew [mph]
24 hours wind speed forecast:
Mountain Forecast12.3-0.5
NOAA11.9-0.1
MWO8.80.0
48 hours wind speed forecast:
Mountain Forecast12.2-0.2
NOAA16.7-0.3

I still look at all three sources to make sure they are showing a similar trend.

Remember to look at forecast for entire day when spending it on the mountains, up to 48 hours, not just the starting time. I am often out for 8–12 hours. Add some contingency time & potential shift in the weather.

Data

Data Spreadsheet containing all data available for download.

The Log tab includes forecast & actual data. Columns are:

  • A: Data of actual weather data. Time of day varied slightly, most often in the morning.
  • B–D: temperature forecast for 24 hours from three sources.
  • E–G: wind forecast for 24 hours from three sources.
  • H–I: temperature forecast for 48 hours from two sources. MWO does not provide 48 hours forecast.
  • J–K: wind forecast for 48 hours from three sources. MWO does not provide 48 hours forecast.
  • L: actual temperature.
  • M: actual wind speed.
  • N–P: variance between 24-hour temperature forecast & actual.
  • Q–S: variance between 24-hour wind forecast & actual.
  • T–U: variance between 48-hour temperature forecast & actual.
  • V–W: variance between 48-hour wind forecast & actual.

The Variance tab calculates the standard deviation & skew for each forecast period & data source.

Method

For the most part, data & calculations are straightforward, comparing forecast versus actual to calculate variance.

Both Mountain Forecast & NOAA provide hourly forecast to compare with actual data at that specific hour.

Mount Washington Observatory provides estimate or range for the day. I approximated these to a fixed forecast as follows:

  • Range: average between low & high
  • Low single digits: 3
  • High single digits: 8
  • Low teens: 13
  • High teens: 18

New England Bicycle Routes

My favorite bicycle routes in New England. These are what I would take a friend on visiting me for two weeks.

It complements three other lists:

Greylock

The highest peak in Massachusetts is a special destination deserving first mention at the top spot of this list.

It is rare that bicycle routes climb to mountain tops. Most often they pass between them through cols, saddles, gaps, & notches.

Views are open in all directions to Berkshires, New York, & Vermont. They are even better from the top of Veterans War Memorial Tower when it is open.

Bascom Lodge at the summit constructed in 1930s by volunteers from the Civilian Conservation Corps of local stone & old growth red spruce timbers. It offers a full service restaurant & overnight accommodations in a rustic arts & crafts building.

My first climb was on Friday 13 August 2010:

No GPS record survived from that first loop. Repeated a similar one ten years later. Started at the visitor center. Climbed to Savoy forest. Descended to Charlemont for snack. One more climb before the steep Kingsley Hills Road dubbed the “meanest mile in Massachusetts.”

Route log recorded 3 September 2020 8:40 on Garmin & Strava ➡️122.82km ⬆️2,627m ↗️21.4m/km ⏬KML & GPX. Rough steep gravel section at beginning of ride after left turn on Quarry Road. Instead, continue to Route 7, Summer Street, & bicycle path to connect back with route.

The loop got bigger & better with an overnight trip from Boston. In early October the air was cool & soaked in fall colors for two full days.

Started early Friday morning on MBTA train to Wachusett station. Small roads & rolling hills were pleasant until lunch stop in Turner Falls. Serious climbing started after crossing the Connecticut River & leaving Greenfield.

Then came Whitecomb Hill Road that sapped whatever little energy was left. And I still had full climb to Mount Greylock. Rest stop in North Adams & knowing that meal, shower, & bed were waiting for me on top kept me going into sunset.

Route log recorded 9 October 2020 6:29 on Garmin & Strava ➡️189.21km ⬆️3,633m ↗️19.2m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

With less than 12 hours of rest, I had to be ready for the return trip home. True I was already on the highest point of the route. I was still short on energy to push hard. I kept a steady pace to enjoy the scenery, downhill, & tailwind. Extended rail trail between Northampton & Amherst was a stroll. Arrived Rose 32 bakery just before they closed for two loaves of Moroccan olive & raisin cranberry bread.

Finished the day in Worcester train station for return trip home.

Route log recorded 10 October 2020 8:16 on Garmin & Strava ➡️179.56km ⬆️2,101m ↗️11.7m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

Vermont Gaps

Look at a Green Mountain range. Decide to cross it. Once on tour of Northern TierFour were pain. Six were foolish. Refer to full trip report for details.

The six gaps route log from 22 August 2020 4:27 recorded on Garmin & Strava ➡️208.42km ⬆️3,498m ↗️16.8m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

The four gaps also known as LAMB: Lincoln, Appalachian, Middlebury, & Brandon. Route log from 30 June 2015 7:55 recorded on Garmin ➡️159.77km ⬆️2,754m ↗️17.2m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

Both options included Lincoln gap, the “Steepest Mile in America”:

Location 44.107712°N 72.860138°W

The sign warned that “Lincoln Gap not recommended for trucks, buses, or trailers”. Not sure it was suitable for bicycles either.

A short distance north was another loop that combined climb on Jay Road & Smugglers’ Notch. Completed in fall colors 11 October 2015 8:11 recorded on Garmin ➡️171.13km ⬆️2,472m ↗️14.4m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

Lake Memphremagog

Hilly & long, yet somehow relaxing route with many points of interest around Lake Memphremagog. Refer to full trip report for details.

Stopped at lavender farm, the only covered bridge I knew in Canada, Georgeville general store & bakery, trails of Magog, & cheese of Abbaye Saint-Benoît-du-Lac.

Location 45.166505°N 72.270807°W

Route log recorded 10 July 2015 8:05 on Garmin ➡️125.61km ⬆️1,554m ↗️12.4m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

Maine Coast

This was not to rest & relax. Rather, it was to jam pack all the best that Maine had to offer in one weekend: rocky coast, lobster, lighthouses, diners, Bar Harbor, bakeries, Acadia National Park, frigid water dip, & Mount Desert.

Refer to trip report for details.

Location 43.917647ºN 69.260728ºW

The trip included three loops:

  • Rockland: lobster roll, ocean views, & lighthouses. Friday 27 September 2019 12:08 on GarminStrava ➡️90.29km ⬆️873m ↗️9.7m/km ⏬KML & GPX.
  • Bar Harbor: carriage roads & summit Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. Saturday 28 September 2019 10:47 on GarminStrava ➡️63.84km ⬆️922m ↗️14.4m/km ⏬KML & GPX.
  • Portland lights & bakeries. Sunday 29 September 2019 10:36 Garmin & Strava ➡️51.49km ⬆️359m ↗️7.0m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

Lake Champlain Islands

All ingredients for relaxing yet active weekend: several stops at state parks, scenic mountain views at every turn, multiple stops for local fresh food, & frequent opportunities to dip in the refreshing lake water.

Refer to trip report for details.

Location 44.594128°N 73.311935°W

Organized this trip every summer for five years between 2015 & 2019, each for three days Friday–Sunday. We varied the routes slightly each year, with options for shorter loops.

Routes from the fifth year were my favorite:

  • Friday 16 August 2019 9:43 on Garmin & Strava ➡️90.09km ⬆️456m ↗️5.1m/km ⏬KML & GPX. Route out of Snow Farm vineyard was almost entirely on trails with lake & mountain views on both sides to Burlington for lunch at August First bakery. Ferry pass was included in trip fee. Returned on the same trail for a tour of Grand Isle perimeter on winding roads almost touching the water. At vineyard, treated ourselves to root beer & ice wine.
  • Saturday 17 August 2019 8:59 on Garmin & Strava ➡️91.44km ⬆️261m ↗️2.9m/km ⏬KML & GPX. Traveled well into Canada—passport or passport card required to cross border. Stopped at farm for snack of locally made cheese. Continued tour through town of Henryville until lunch in Venise-en-Québec. Back on Isle La Motte, visited Saint Annes shrine, & Samuel Champlain statue.
  • Sunday 18 August 2019 9:00 on Garmin & Strava ➡️62.29km ⬆️218m ↗️3.5m/km ⏬KML & GPX. Fun tour of North Hero island beaches & coast line, with stops at North Hero State Park & Alburg Dunes State Park. Bonus lunch stop at Hero’s Welcome.

Many sections of these routes were not paved, including the entire causeway connecting Grand Isle with trail to Burlington for about 10km each way. They were hard packed dirt & crushed stone suitable for all bicycles, including 25mm tires.

White Mountains

The Boston Chapter of Appalachian Mountain Club had been running a trip north of the White Mountains for 25 years. Detailed report compiled of my participation 2010–2017. Hope to repeat the trip in summer 2022 five years after the last one in 2017.

It was a classic trip that featured all the mountain views without climbing the mountains, hearty home made meals, & varied routes from year to year. Some even ventured into Canada for Smarties candy & gravel roads.

In the heart of White Mountains though, it was all about climbing between peaks through notches.

Four Notches & a Pass (4N1P) was a classic loop that include Kancamagus pass, Bear notch, Crawford notch, Franconia notch, & Kinsman notch:

Route log recorded Friday 15 August 2020 6:05 on Garmin & Strava ➡️158.55km ⬆️2,2241m ↗️14.0m/km ⏬KML & GPX:

A fun shorter variation was to climb to Franconia Notch on the bicycle trail then to Kinsman for a swim in Beaver Pond:

Route log recorded Friday 18 August 2017 14:51 on GarminStrava ➡️65.38km ⬆️954m ↗️14.6m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

On the east side, along the border with Maine, a loop climbed to Evans Notch, Hurricane Mountain Road with long stretches at a grade over 20%, & Pinkham Notch:

Route log from 1 August 2010 9:36 recorded on Garmin ➡️114.22km ⬆️1,464m ↗️12.8m/km

The road had very few services. Two good stops of note were Stowe Corner bakery in Stowe, ME, & AMC Joe Dodge lodge. Busy dangerous traffic was on routes 2 & 116.

Gravel option was a loop from AMC Highland Center to Old Cherry Mountain Road, steep climb to Jefferson Notch, & fast descent. Route log recorded Friday 12 July 2015 8:34 on Garmin ➡️46.76km ⬆️821m ↗️17.6m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

Cape Cod

This is a no-regrets destination. I visit multiple times a year on day & weekend trips.

The 200km double metric was a swoosh tour of the entire Cape. Sweeping ocean views, lighthouses, trails, bakeries, & rewarding ocean plunge:

Six lighthouses were along the route: Nobska, Nauset, Three Sisters, & Highland. Race Point was in the distance from Herring Cove beach.

Started in Boston South station on Cape Flyer train to Bourne station. Challenge was to complete the entire ride in 10 hours or overall average of 20km/h. Returned from Provincetown on ferry to Boston.

Recorded 4 July 2020 6:33 on Garmin & Strava ➡️201.43km, ⬆️1,221m, ↗️6.1m/km, ⏬KML & GPX.

Stay on Cape Flyer train to last station in Hyannis to cut the route distance in half. Continue from there in a similar itinerary to Provincetown & ferry back to Boston.

Everyone should bicycle on Martha’s Vineyard at least once a year. No other place offers such rich combination of small roads, trails, beaches, ginger bread houses, Jaws bridge, Back Door donuts, Swordfish Harpooner, & no fewer than four lighthouses: East Chop, West Chop, Gay Head, & Edgartown Harbor lights.

Recorded 31 October 2020 11:28 on Garmin & Strava ➡️123.55km, ⬆️866m, ↗️7.0m/km, ⏬KML & GPX:

Take the short ferry ride to visit Chappaquiddick island for gravel to Mytoi Japanese garden, Wasque Reservation, & Dyke Bridge site of Kennedy accident 1969.

Or take a long weekend to cover the entire Cape Cod & Martha’s Vineyard over multiple days.

Boston

Connect bicycle routes with train network in Boston for a large variety of terrain, scenery, bakeries, beaches, & historic destinations. They can be to travel for multiple days, tour for a day, or bicycle fast for fitness.

Or bicycle locally from Lexington just outside of Boston.

Tours

Trips that involve one or more nights.

  • Northern Tier for five days from Lake Champlain, Green Mountains, Kancamagus Highway in White Mountains, & Maine coast to Bar Harbor.
  • Boston–Portland one way, taking Amtrak back, completed multiple times over one, two, & three days.
  • Cape Cod is a no-regrets destination. I visited multiple times on dayweekendfamilyfriends, Scouts, & Martha’s Vineyard trips.
  • Pioneer Valley over three days between Northampton, Brattleboro, & Keene
  • Six New England states completed in 24 hours can be easily split into two or more days.
  • Mount Greylock over two days from Boston. The trip can & should be split into four days.
  • Mont Tremblent to Boston gravel edition over one week. Trip planning in progress.

Theo Chocolate

My other kind of library:

Greetings from Seattle

Share this bar with someone you love near or far! We make our chocolate in our Seattle factory & connect you with cocoa farmers around the world. Our chocolate is so delicious because we source only the finest organic & fair trade ingredients.

Salted Black Licorice

Indulge in the rich flavor of black licorice with a touch of sea salt in smooth 70% dark chocolate—sweet, salty, & complex.

My Cherry Baby

Fall in love with cherries in creamy, dreamy 45% milk chocolate—tangy, sweet, & yummy.

Cherry Almond

Cherries on the inside? That’s the cherry on top.

Organic cherries & roasted almonds add a delightful sweetness & satisfying crunch to our rich dark chocolate.

Pure 85%

It’s called dark chocolate, but it can brighten anyone’s day.

Make the day brighter with this pure, dark chocolate made from organic & sustainably-sourced ingredients.

Black Rice Quinoa Crunch

Ancient grains plus rich chocolate equals a perfect crunchy treat.

Puffed Lotus Foods Forbidden Rice & quinoa make this an amazing bar with crunch in every bite.

Mint

A classic combination that’s never tasted so good.

We’ve infused our dark chocolate with peppermint for a refreshing spin on a favorite flavor pairing.

Cool mint in smooth dark chocolate—refreshingly bright.

Theo dark chocolate with mint

Orange

Today’s forecast calls for chocolate with a hint of sunshine:

Make your day brighter with the light, citrus flavor of orange essential oil blended into our smooth dark chocolate.

Theo dark chocolate with orange

Coconut

A little coconut, a lot of tropical flavor.

We blended our rich dark chocolate with organic coconut to create a taste of the tropics anywhere you go.

Theo dark chocolate with coconut

Ginger

Add a little spice to your life. And your chocolate.

Hot drink made with melted Theo 70% dark chocolate at end of cold long day

We added bits of candied ginger to our rich, organic chocolate for an extra kick of flavor you’ll love.

Turmeric Spice

A touch of spice makes our dark chocolate extra nice.

We’ve blended turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, & spicy black pepper with our rich dark chocolate to create a one-of-a-kind flavor.

Almond Coconut

Celebrate spring with coconut & crunchy almonds in smooth, rich 70% dark chocolate—nutty & refreshing.

Enjoying National Hot Chocolate Day, properly made from melted Theo chocolate, not cocoa powder.

Enjoying National Hot Chocolate Day, properly made from melted Theo chocolate, not cocoa powder.

Congo Coffee & Cream

Breakfast on Mt Flume at start of Pemi loop:

Location 44.108856ºN, 71.627992ºW

Breakfast on Mount Madison at start of Presidential Traverse:

Location 44.328747ºN, 71.27713ºW

Pure 45%

Creamy, silky, dreamy.

Raspberry

Raspberries in smooth dark chocolate—deliciously fruity & bright.

Salted Almond

One amazing treat with all your favorite flavors.

Made with rich dark chocolate, roasted almonds, & Pink Himalayan Salt, this bar is part salty, part crunchy, & completely delicious.

Salted Toffee

A little salty. A little crunchy. A lot of yummy.

A pinch of sea salt, buttery toffee, & rich dark chocolate all blend perfectly in this ode to deliciousness.

Coffee Toffee

Coffee perks up your body. Chocolate perks up your soul.

There’s nothing better than this blend of crunchy toffee, dark chocolate, & rich coffee made with organic ingredients.

Sea Salt

Salty & sweet: better together.

Made from rich, organic dark chocolate with a pinch of sea salt, this bar is the perfect combination of flavors.

Gingerbread Spice

Ginger and cinnamon spice up creamy 45% milk chocolate—nostalgic, sweet, and festive.

Happy new year

Cranberry Orange

Tart cranberry & orange in 55% dark chocolate—bright, fruity, & merry.

Bicycles, Bakeries, & Ferries of the Pacific Northwest. Optional factory tour of Theo Chocolate

Nutcracker Brittle

Hazelnuts and sweet brittle chunks in 55% dark chocolate—crunchy, salty, & decadent.

Ice & severe wind: chocolate energy for crawl on 4 to Mt Mansfield—top of Vermont:

And 2020 edition:

Peppermint Crunch

Crunchy peppermint candy in rich 70% dark chocolate—minty, nostalgic, & bright.

And 2020 edition:

Hazelnut Crunch

Theo crunchy brittle with hazelnuts & a pinch of salt in creamy milk chocolate.

Indulge your imagination with this surprisingly and delicious combination of flavors.

Theo crunchy brittle with hazelnuts & a pinch of salt in creamy milk chocolate

Cinnamon Horchata

A hint of cinnamon with the subtle crunch of rice in creamy milk chocolate.

Indulge your imagination with this surprising and delicious combination of flavors.

Root Beer Barrel

Sweet root beer barrel candy in rich dark chocolate for a satisfying crunch.

Indulge your imagination with a surprising and delicious combination of flavors.

Grapefruit Ginger

Bright & citrusy grapefruit with zesty ginger in a rich dark chocolate.

Bread & Chocolate

Buttery toasted bread crumbs in rich dark chocolate with a touch of sea salt.

Theo dark chocolate & buttery toasted bread crumbs

Big Daddy

Theo #chocolate Big Daddy: handmade graham cracker crust, add a layer of buttery vanilla infused caramel, & float a fluffy marshmallow cloud on top.

Theo chocolate Big Daddy: handmade graham cracker crust, add a layer of buttery vanilla infused caramel, & float a fluffy marshmallow cloud on top.

Peppermint Cocoa Cups

Imagine a mug of hot cocoa on a cold day. We re-created this winter classic in a cup of our own. Our cocoa cups combine peppermint chocolate and coconut oil—a festive treat that will melt in your mouth. Unwrap a new winter classic.

Lexington Bicycle Routes

Easy access to rural quiet roads, trails, train stations, friendly bicycle shop, & large route library are just a few reasons to make Lexington a top choice for starting a bicycle ride from.

This post is about my favorite routes from town. Most of them are fitness rides meant for training.

For touring options to enjoy a full day out, I have a large collection with connection to MBTA trains near Boston. Another collection available for tours around New England. For overnight trips, there is a separate post to plan your next bicycle adventure.

I owe these route collection to our neighbors Ride Studio Café (RSC) & bicycle club Charles River Wheelers (CRW).

Light meals available at RSC all day, ice cream at Rancatore’s, coffee at Starbuck’s, & dinner at many local restaurants on main street.

Index

Route Log
Wednesday Worlds to Concord & Bedford Short ➡️37.23km ⬆️355m ↗️9.5m/km & long ➡️55.80km ⬆️437m ↗️7.8m/km
Thursday Fitness from Meriam’s Corner north to Chelmsford ➡️42.50km ⬆️254m ↗️6.0m/km
Friday Unwinder from Bedford library to Concord ➡️37.62km ⬆️236m ↗️6.3m/km
Lexington Revolutions from Lexington Battle Green to Concord, Carlisle, & Bedford ➡️50.46km ⬆️377m ↗️7.5m/km
Saturday Espresso to Weston & Sudbury ➡️56.70km ⬆️496m ↗️8.7m/km
Sunday Coffee to Ponyhenge in Lincoln, Sudbury, & ice cream in Concord ➡️59.25km ⬆️496m ↗️8.4m/km
Thanksgiving west to Stowe & north to Andover ➡️70.01km ⬆️505m ↗️7.2m/km
Overtime northwest to Fitchburg & southern New Hampshire ➡️161.62km ⬆️1,327m ↗️8.2m/km
NER Populair west to Harvard ➡️109.22km ⬆️1,005m ↗️9.2m/km
South to RHQ bicycle shop ➡️81.64km ⬆️727m ↗️8.9m/km
CRW 50th roller coaster northwest to Dunstableth ➡️127.53km ⬆️1,050m ↗️8.2m/km
Play on Trails mostly paved, some hard packed, two short rough sections ➡️92.08km ⬆️501m ↗️5.4m/km
Across Lexington mixed terrain, some rough sections ➡️60.17km ⬆️589m ↗️9.8m/km
Minute Man hard packed gravel & dirt ➡️28.88km, ⬆️114m

Wednesday Worlds

This RSC ride is fast fast fast. I never actually ride with the group. Rather, my goal is to count the seconds I can keep up with them. This is often in the low two digits number of seconds.

I also track my fitness level from one week to the next & from one year to the next.

I take a shortcut part way through the route still finishing at the same time as the other fast riders. Recorded 16 May 2020 7:41 on Garmin & Strava: ➡️37.23km ⬆️355m ↗️9.5m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

The full route recorded 10 July 2020 6:56 on Garmin & Strava: ➡️55.80km, ⬆️437m, ↗️7.8m/km, ⏬KML & GPX.

Thursday Fitness

This makes it tough to have fast rides two days in a row (see previous RSC WMW ride). They are both fun. I often take one of them as a recovery ride with the other fast maximum aerobic effort.

Recorded 4 June 2020 7:24 on Garmin & Strava ➡️42.50km ⬆️254m ↗️6.0m/km ⏬KML & GPX:

Up until a few years ago, this ride started from Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, with a slightly different route but the same fitness goal.

Recorded 17 August 2017 18:03 on Garmin & Strava ➡️43.59km ⬆️248m ↗️5.7m/km ⏬KML & GPX:

Friday Unwinder

CRW classic ride every Friday evening from Bedford library:

Recorded 10 July 2017 17:35 on Garmin & Strava ➡️37.62km ⬆️236m ↗️6.3m/km ⏬KML & GPX:

Lexington Revolutions

Start from Lexington Battle Green for fast loop through rolling hills of Concord, Carlisle, & Bedford.

Recorded 5 September 2020 7:01 on Garmin & Strava ➡️50.46km ⬆️377m ↗️7.5m/km ⏬KML & GPX:

Saturday Espresso

This RSC ride is for people who are comfortable and proficient riding properly equipped road bikes and who are interested in riding with a group.

Recorded 29 July 2017 9:06 on Garmin & Strava ➡️56.70km ⬆️496m ↗️8.7m/km ⏬KML & GPX:

Sunday Coffee

Social ride that accommodates multiple riding levels. It is a good place to know the RSC riding community. The group is split according to speed, with a Ride Studio Super Domestique leading the way and ensuring ride rules are followed.

Route passed by ponyhenge & Bedford Farms ice cream. Recorded 16 September 2020 13:37 on Garmin & Strava ➡️59.25km ⬆️496m ↗️8.4m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

Previous route passed by Kimball Farm in Carlisle for blueberry vanilla crumble ice cream. Recorded 2 July 2017 9:05 on Garmin & Strava ➡️57.96km ⬆️518m ↗️8.7m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

Thanksgiving

Early morning sprint with RSC before time for turkey & pie.

Recorded 24 November 2016 8:21 on Garmin & Strava ➡️70.01km ⬆️505m ↗️7.2m/km ⏬KML & GPX:

We offered another option to Harold Park state forest on a rainy day. We stopped under a small shelter to rest, change layers, & drink hot chocolate:

Shortly after was a stop at Ryers general store & Dunkin’ Donuts.

The ride coincided with Major Taylor birthday 26 November 1878.

Recorded 26 November 2020 7:34 on Garmin & Strava ➡️76.17km ⬆️598m ↗️7.9m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

Overtime

Thank you RSC for Overtime route: bright spring colors, idyllic roads, & bakeries:

Recorded 13 May 2017 8:42 on Garmin & Strava ➡️161.62km ⬆️1,327m ↗️8.2m/km ⏬KML & GPX:

Repeated the remote section of this loop from Ayer on Nashua River trail & country roads between farms. Water dip in Pearl Hill state park. Lull farm stand for local peach, watermelon, yogurt, milk, & bread. 30 July 2017 9:55 on Garmin & Strava ➡️92.26km ⬆️692m ↗️7.5m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

NER Populair

New England Randonneurs hosted this event with RSC. Check their calendar for many more ride ideas, especially long distance tours across New England.

Recorded 6 April 2014 9:46 on Garmin ➡️109.22km ⬆️1,005m ↗️9.2m/km ⏬KML & GPX:

Festive 500

Ride Studio Café hosted rides for Festive 500 challenge for many years. The idea is to ride 500km between Christmas & New Year.

Refer to detailed post for all the rides.

One route travelled between RSC in Lexington to RHQ in Sherborn worth repeating. Statues for Gandhi & Emily the Cow were at nearby Peace Park:

Soon after was a stop at Lookout Farm for hard cider & Charles River Coffee House for snacks. Recorded 14 November 2020 7:33on Garmin & Strava ➡️97.01km ⬆️920m ↗️9.5m/km ⏬KML & GPX:

CRW Anniversary

Beginning to end this route was fun on narrow quiet winding roads. There was very little traffic, rolling hills, & cool tree shade even in summer heat.

Stopped at Tully Farm Dairy store for Ye Olde Fashioned Root Beer, chocolate milk, & ice cream sandwich. Next door was Goss Farm ice cream.

Recorded 8 August 2020 9:21 on Garmin & Strava ➡️127.53km ⬆️1,050m ↗️8.2m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

Play on Trails

Connect most trails in the region around Lexington: Minuteman, Charles River, Mass Central, & Bruce Freeman:

Stop at Nashoba bakery in West Concord for snack or lunch.

Recorded 2 August 2020 9:24 on Garmin & Strava ➡️92.08km ⬆️501m ↗️5.4m/km ⏬KML & GPX:

There are a few hard packed dirt sections suitable for all bicycles. Two very minor rough sections. First is at 78km after left turn from Route 4 onto Rainbow Lane: avoid that by taking the next left onto Stag Drive. Second at 80km the start of Narrow Gauge rail trail: walk that short section.

Option to start this loop from Alewife or Waltham MBTA stations.

Across Lexington

Mixed terrain on local trails: single track, paved paths, roads, & double track routes. All within Lexington town limits.

Recorded 2 May 2020 13:20 on Garmin & Strava ➡️60.17km ⬆️589m ↗️9.8m/km ⏬KML & GPX:

These loops, one or combination of them, are excellent trail running options.

Minute Man

Revolutionary war tour starting at Lexington Green to Battle Road through Minute Man National Park. Continue to Concord town center for ice cream at Bedford Farms, rest at Concord green, books at Concord library, history at North Bridge, or lunch at Trail’s End café. Across the street is a trail to Bedford that connects with the western terminus of Minuteman Bikeway back to Lexington center.

Recorded 30 July 2020 18:12 on Garmin & Strava ➡️28.88km ⬆️114m ⏬KML & GPX:

Bicycle with MBTA Trains

Connect bicycle routes with train network in Boston for a large variety of terrain, scenery, bakeries, beaches, & historic destinations. They can be to travel for multiple days, tour for a day, or bicycle fast for fitness.

I have been on hundreds of bicycle rides in the region using this multiple mode of transport. This post includes some of my favorite routes, completely dependent on public transport.

Library is work in progress. More routes are in research to include later.

Refer to other collections:

Weekend Pass

On weekends, MBTA offers a commuter rail pass, only any line, between any stations, all weekend, for $10:

Pass available on the mobile app & at ticket office.

Packing List

I spend a full day touring on most of these routes carrying basic supplies:

  • Ortlieb Ultimate 6 handle bar bag, waterproof, spacious, easy to access in front.
  • USB battery with cables for phone, GPS device, & watch.
  • Headphones to make phone calls or listen to music while on the train.
  • Hydration tablets: Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes or Salt Sticks.
  • Light wind breaker jacket, even on hot summer days.
  • Sunscreen in summer & winter.
  • Cash $20
  • Towel or bandana
  • Spoon & knife
  • Food: energy bars, freeze dried food, nut butter, chocolate, müesli.
  • First aid kit
  • Additional gear depending on weather:
    • Rain jacket, pants, waterproof socks, & helmet cover
    • Winter heat packs for hands & feet, gloves, hat, neck warmer, & extra layers. Bring extra of each to change part way through the day or after ride when the first set gets wet.
    • Insulated bottles with hot Milo chocolate. Carry extra Milo powder.
  • On bicycle: 2 water bottles, front light, rear light, GPS, tool kit, & pump.
  • On me: heart rate monitor, helmet, gloves, sunglasses, & mirror.

Credit

I owe much of the ideas in this collection to Ride Studio Café & Charles River Wheelers. They organize regular group rides all year with plenty of inspiration.

Mixed Terrain

I often mix routes between roads, rail trails, & gravel routes. The majority of routes are paved. There is almost always short sections of gravel or dirt. Where sections are extended for more than just a few kilometers, I try to make note of them.

My only bicycle has 32–35mm tires, allowing me to enjoy low traffic destination, regardless of when the pavement ends.

Index

All these routes are paved unless noted with level number for unpaved sections: 1️⃣ minor, 2️⃣ moderate, & 3️⃣ extended. The majority are hard packed dirt & stone dust, comfortable with 28–32mm tires. Where rough sections identified, they are suitable for 32–35mm tires.

Start End Route Log
Wachusett Concord Downhill from Wachusett to Little Lamb & Carlson Orchards. ➡️107.35km ⬆️1,147m ↗️10.7m/km
Alewife or Concord Wachusett Observatories tour for MIT & Harvard ➡️114.67km ⬆️1,559m ↗️13.6m/km
Wachusett Lincoln Climb to the Clouds: classic climb Mount Wachusett ➡️121.37km ⬆️1,335m ⬇️1,482m ↗️11.0m/km
Wachusett Worcester Gravel trails to Worcester 3️⃣ ➡️111.81km ⬆️897m ↗️8.0m/km
Wachusett Worcester Overnight to Mount Greylock Two big days ➡️189.21km ⬆️3,633m ↗️19.2m/km & ➡️179.56km ⬆️2,101m ↗️11.7m/km
Wachusett Wachusett Tour covered bridges of Keene Paved ➡️167.69km ⬆️1,839m ↗️11.0m/km & gravel route in research
Fitchburg Fitchburg Peterborough ➡️94.77km ⬆️1,123m ↗️12.8m/km
Ayer Ayer Farms, bakeries, & Nashua River trail ➡️92.26km ⬆️692m ↗️7.5m/km
Waltham Rockport Cape Ann from Boston coastal tour ➡️167.68km ⬆️1,136m ↗️6.8m/km
Waltham or Alewife Same station Play on Trails 1️⃣ ➡️92.08km ⬆️501m ↗️5.4m/km
Alewife Newburyport Plum Island 2️⃣ ➡️109.86km ⬆️511m ↗️4.7m/km
Alewife Alewife Lincoln hills ➡️34.67km ⬆️416m ↗️12.0m/km
Alewife Providence Alewife–Framingham–Providence on trails Route in research
Harvard Harvard Metro fitness loop ➡️245.25km ⬆️2,368m ↗️9.7m/km
Newburyport Newburyport Portsmouth coast, bakery, & Exeter ➡️106.02km ⬆️282m ↗️2.7m/km
Newburyport North Beat the Train 2️⃣: Boston–Portland ➡️153.02km ⬆️671m ↗️4.4m/km
West Gloucester West Gloucester Cape Ann tour to lighthouses, beaches, & ice cream ➡️130.23km ⬆️1,281m ↗️9.8m/km
Lawrence Newburyport Rockingham Trails ➡️128.83km ⬆️659m ↗️5.1m/km
Framingham Framingham Jack’s Abbey beer & cider ➡️61.69km ⬆️548m ↗️8.9m/km
Worcester Providence East Coast Greenway trails to Providence ➡️86.13km ⬆️449m ↗️5.2m/km
Worcester Worcester Connecticut quiet corner ➡️115.30km ⬆️1,543m ↗️13.4m/km
Worcester New Haven, CT Trains, trails, & gravel to NYC 3️⃣ ➡️115.30km ⬆️1,543m ↗️13.4m/km
Needham Junction Needham Junction Needham west, Boston marathon, & turkey farm ➡️90.13km ⬆️833m ↗️9.2m/km
Needham Junction Needham Junction Moose Hill Mania Route in research
Providence Providence Newport tour of beaches & lighthouses Various ride options
Providence South Beat the ferry time limit challenge through Cape Cod ➡️235.00km ⬆️1,033m ↗️4.4m/km
Providence Newburyport Flèche: 6 New England states in 24 hours ➡️428.42km ⬆️3,678m ↗️8.6m/km
Providence Providence Backroads & trails ➡️88.73km ⬆️720m ↗️8.1m/km
Providence South East Coast Greenway to Hartford 1️⃣. Some rough sections. ➡️179.03km ⬆️1,304m ↗️7.3m/km
Providence Plymouth Providence to Plymouth through New Bedford & Cape Cod canal Route in research
Providence Providence Tri-state trails 2️⃣ Route in research
Charles MGH Charles MGH Back Bay Derby to Newton, Weston, & Wellesley ➡️44.19km ⬆️394m ↗️8.9m/km
Charles MGH Providence Boston–Providence: Natick Green, Franklin Green, &amp Blackstone trail ➡️111.16km ⬆️807m ↗️7.3m/km
Savin Hill South Boston Harborwalk with parks & beaches ➡️16.65km ⬆️23m
Quincy Center Plymouth South Shore tour from Boston to Plymouth 2️⃣ ➡️128.49km ⬆️917m ↗️7.1m/km
Nantasket Junction Nantasket Junction South Shore Coastal Ride From Wompatuck Route in research
Plymouth Middleborough Cranberry bogs ➡️106.81km ⬆️662m ↗️6.2m/km
Plymouth South Beat the ferry—fall edition ➡️163.39km ⬆️1,113m ↗️6.8m/km
Plymouth Plymouth Plymouth to Cape Cod canal Route in research
Bourne Bourne Shining Sea tour of Upper Cape Cod: Sandwich, Hyannis, & Falmouth ➡️132.4km ⬆️502m ↗️3.8m/km
Bourne Bourne Family tour of Upper Cape Multiple route options
Bourne South Beat the Ferry: shining sea trail to shining sea dip ➡️201.43km ⬆️1,221m ↗️6.1m/km
Hyannis South Hyannis–Provincetown: trail, salt water taffy, bakeries, lighthouses, & many beaches to dip in ➡️107.08km ⬆️622m ↗️5.8m/km

Map

The map shows all the stations in this post from which I suggest routes.

Select the brackets on the top right corner of the map to open map in full view.

Wachusett

Location 42.553437ºN 71.848908ºW
  • Downhill from Wachusett. While still rested, climb to top of Wachusett Mountain. Lunch at Mountainside Bakery & Café. Little Lamb statue & school house site. Chilled cider & peaches at Carlson Orchards. 21 September 2019 10:22 on Garmin & Strava ➡️107.35km ⬆️1,147m ↗️10.7m/km ⏬KML & GPX.
  • Observatories tour for MIT & Harvard. Leave Lexington for a climb to MIT Haystack observatory. Speed through winding roller coaster. Stop at old Harvard observatory & nearby Carlson Orchards or Harvard general store. Long climb from the valley to top of Wachusett Mountain. Careful on fast descent to Wachusett train station. Memorial Day 25 May 2020 10:07 on Garmin & Strava ➡️114.67km ⬆️1,559m ↗️13.6m/km ⏬KML & GPX.
  • Climb to the Clouds. Annual event for Charles River Wheelers bicycle club. Turned virtual in 2020. Got a head start on the 100 mile century loop. While I climbed as much as descended, it felt like a long fast downhill from Wachusett Mountain to finish line. 21 June 2020 8:42 on Garmin & Strava ➡️121.37km ⬆️1,335m ⬇️1,482m ↗️11.0m/km ⏬KML & GPX.
  • Gravel trails to Worcester. Coincided with 1 Million Miles for Justice ride. Paved trails started by Crystal Lake until Winchenden for 20km. Gravel on Mass Central rail trail started at Hitchcock Road all the way to Eagle Lake for 50km. The section from Smithville was extra well maintained crushed stone & scenic. 15 July 2020 9:46 on Garmin & Strava ➡️111.81km ⬆️897m ↗️8.0m/km ⏬KML & GPX.
  • Overnight to Mount Greylock. Long distance, big climbs, & distracting scenery. Bakeries, hamlets, & Bascom Lodge for warm welcome. The trip can & should be split into four days. Route log recorded 9 October 2020 6:29 on Garmin & Strava ➡️189.21km ⬆️3,633m ↗️19.2m/km ⏬KML & GPX. Return trip to Worcester recorded 10 October 2020 8:16 on Garmin & Strava ➡️179.56km ⬆️2,101m ↗️11.7m/km ⏬KML & GPX.
  • Tour covered bridges of Keene. Full day to enjoy backroads, five covered bridges, Fire Dog Breads, Troy depot, & Wachusett Brewery. Paved option on 21 November 2020 8:31 on Garmin & Strava ➡️167.69km ⬆️1,839m ↗️11.0m/km ⏬KML & GPX. Gravel option route in research. Details about the bridges & other route options are in Pioneer Valley post.

Fitchburg

Peterborough. Southern New Hamphire small towns & roads. Mount Monadnock. Lunch in Peterborough. 5 October 2019 10:17 on Garmin & Strava ➡️94.77km ⬆️1,123m ↗️12.8m/km ⏬KML & GPX. Alternate route in research with gravel option.

Ayer

Farms, bakeries, & Nashua River trail. Loop on trail & country roads between remote farms. Water dip in Pearl Hill state park. Lull farm stand for local peach, watermelon, yogurt, milk, & bread. 30 July 2017 9:55 on Garmin & Strava ➡️92.26km ⬆️692m ↗️7.5m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

Concord

Location 42.456794ºN 71.357987ºW

Lincoln

Location 42.414963ºN 71.326378ºW

Climb to the Clouds. Started in Wachusett. Finished in Lincoln.

Waltham

  • Tour from Boston along the coast. Lighthouses: Marblehead, Fort Pickering, Derby Wharf, Eastern Point & Annisquam. Beaches: Pebble, Good Harbor, & Singing. Bewitched, Ugly Mug diner, Cape Ann Brewing, & Fort Sewall. 12 January 2020 5:46 on Garmin & Strava ➡️167.68km ⬆️1,136m ↗️6.8m/km ⏬KML & GPX.
  • Long loop playing mostly on rail trails. Connected most trails in the Boston metro west region: Minuteman, Charles River, Mass Central, & Bruce Freeman. Stopped at Nashoba bakery in West Concord for snack or lunch. 2 August 2020 9:24 on Garmin & Strava ➡️92.08km ⬆️501m ↗️5.4m/km ⏬KML & GPX. There were a few hard packed dirt sections suitable for all bicycles. Two very minor rough sections. First was at 78km after left turn from Route 4 onto Rainbow Lane: avoid that by taking the next left onto Stag Drive. Second at 80km the start of Narrow Gauge rail trail: walk that short section.

Alewife

  • Long loop playing mostly on rail trails: connected most trails in the Boston metro west region: Minuteman, Charles River, Mass Central, & Bruce Freeman. Route described in Waltham station.
  • Plum Island through mixed terrain trails: navigate many trails on East Coast Greenway. Bring binoculars to watch birds on Plum Island. Dip in water at Sandy Point. Lunch at Abraham’s Bagels. Return by train. 30 May 2020 9:04 on Garmin & Strava ➡️109.86km ⬆️511m ↗️4.7m/km ⏬KML & GPX.
  • Fitness training loop to Lincoln hills: very few stops, low traffic roads, & plenty of hills. 21 September 2020 16:31 on Garmin & Strava ➡️34.67km ⬆️416m ↗️12.0m/km ⏬KML & GPX.
  • Alewife–Framingham–Providence on trails. Route in research.

Harvard

Metro fitness loop west to Belmont & Lexington. A few stop lights near the Square. Otherwise, long stretches of open roads & rolling hills. 14 September 2020 16:23 on Garmin & Strava ➡️38.75km ⬆️275m ↗️7.1m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

Newburyport

Location 42.798458ºN 70.878250ºW

West Gloucester

Cape Ann tour to lighthouses, beaches, & ice cream. The route was dotted with beaches to cool off on a hot day. We dipped at Crane, White, & Annisquam beaches. Famous Good Harbor beach was very busy. Visited Eastern Point & Annisquam lights. Lunch at Heart & Soul café. Dinner at Holy Cow ice cream café. 26 July 2020 7:04 on Garmin & Strava ➡️130.23km ⬆️1,281m ↗️9.8m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

Lawrence

Full day on extended gravel & paved trail sections. Started from train station in Lawrence mostly on paved trails with a few gravel sections to Manchester. Picked up the Rockingham rail trail, very well maintained for 50km, stopped at historic train depot, through tunnels, & by ponds. Stopped at Me & Ollie’s bakery in Exeter. Continued to Amesbury for connecting trail to Newburyport for train back home. Andre compiled a beautiful video & earth view of route. 28 November 2020 7:49 on Garmin & Strava ➡️128.83km ⬆️659m ↗️5.1m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

Framingham

Location 42.275722ºN 71.421372ºW

Jack’s Abby was fun, felt downhill most of the way, & connected quiet winding roads between farms. To be sure there were some steep short climbs, especially toward the end when we were ready for a cold glass of hard cider. 23 October 2020 12:01 on Garmin & Strava ➡️61.69km ⬆️548m ↗️8.9m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

Worcester

Location 42.2609ºN 71.7948ºW
  • East Coast Greenway to Providence. First stop right out of the station was Birch Tree bakery. Meandered in & out of trails with no major climbs. 12 October 2019 10:15 on Garmin & Strava ➡️86.13km ⬆️449m ↗️5.2m/km ⏬KML & GPX.
  • Connecticut quiet corner. In late fall, chased fall colors south through Woodstock, Putnam, & Thompson. Stopped by Woodstock Orchards for apple coffee cake, cider donuts, & apples. 25 October 2020 6:41 on Garmin & Strava ➡️115.30km ⬆️1,543m ↗️13.4m/km ⏬KML & GPX.
  • Trains, trails, & gravel to NYC almost entirely on trails, most of them gravel. Boarded Metro North train from New Haven to NYC. Finished the day with the Charging Bull & Fearless Girl of Wall Street. 6 November 2020 4:23 on Garmin & Strava ➡️218.26km ⬆️1,317m ↗️6.0m/km ⏬KML & GPX. This gravel route was a better option compared with earlier Harvard to Yale tour. Working on a paved route from Providence to New Haven.

Needham Junction

Providence

  • Newport tour of beaches & lighthouses. Scored five lighthouses: Pomham Rocks, Beavertail, Castle Hill, Rose Island, & Dutch Island. Dipped in Second Beach early morning. Bicycled on East Bay trail to Bristol. Ferry or bus to Newport. Conanicut ferry to Jamestown, bicycle tour of island, ferry back to Newport. Bicycle tour around Fort Adams & Cliff Walk. Return ferry or bus to Providence. 1 August 2020 5:32 on Garmin route collection. Long day trip, somewhat complicated connections between train & ferry transport. Well worth the effort. Better yet, split the trip overnight in Newport.
  • Beat the ferry. A twist on Cape in a Day with a new route, trails, coastal views, bakeries, & a challenge: bicycle 234km from Providence to Provincetown in 12 hours for ferry back to Boston. 30 June 2018 8:01 on Suunto & Strava ➡️235.00km ⬆️1,033m ↗️4.4m/km ⏬KML & GPX.
  • Flèche: 6 New England states in 24 hours. A foolish challenge, worth repeating over a weekend or multiple days. After much training, eating, & worrying, I observed the sun rise along one of the most beautiful coastal scenery in New England. I finished the ride in 23:55:03, at Newburyport commuter rail stop. 14 May 2016 7:58 on Garmin & Strava ➡️428.42km ⬆️3,678m ↗️8.6m/km ⏬KML & GPX.
  • Backroads. Washington Secondary paved trail, backroads, apple cider, & Water Fire. 3 August 2019 11:41 on Garmin & Strava ➡️88.73km ⬆️720m ↗️8.1m/km ⏬KML & GPX. Adjust route to include Swamp Meadow covered bridge.
  • Weekend in NYC: paved route in research to New Haven for Metro North train to NYC. Variation from earlier trip on East Coast Greenway to Hartford. Mostly on trails & rural roads, extended gravel sections, some were rough. 23 October 2015 8:30 on Garmin ➡️179.03km ⬆️1,304m ↗️7.3m/km ⏬KML & GPX.
  • Providence to Plymouth. Route in research.
  • Tri-state trails. Route in research. Inspired by earlier trip from Worcester on many of these trails, long stretches of gravel, tri-state marker at intersection of CT, MA, & RI, & burrito dinner.

Charles MGH

  • Back Bay Derby. Urban bicycle loop at its best: hills, fast sprints, & scenic views through Back Bay, Newton, Weston, & Wellesley. 13 September 2020 6:13 on Garmin & Strava ➡️44.19km ⬆️394m ↗️8.9m/km ⏬KML & GPX.
  • Boston–Natick–Providence. Ride along Charles River, Beacon street, Natick Green, Franklin Green, & Blackstone trail. Snacks at Blue Moon bakery, Trappistine chocolate, & Seven Stars bakery. 16 July 2017 8:38 on Garmin & Strava ➡️111.16km ⬆️807m ↗️7.3m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

Savin Hill

Boston Harborwalk. Public walkway along the waterfront, with parks, beaches, art, cafés, exhibit areas, transportation, & other amenities. 16 August 2014 11:00 on Garmin ➡️16.65km ⬆️23m ⏬KML & GPX.

Quincy Center

Location 42.2522ºN 71.0053ºW

South Shore tour from Boston to Plymouth. Lighthouses: Scituate & Plymouth. Beaches at just about every turn: Black Rock, Duxbury, & Saquish Neck. World’s End reservation. Historical monuments: John Adams birth place, Myles Standish, Forefathers, & Plymouth Rock. Dinner at KKatie’s Burger. 19 June 2020 8:30 on Garmin & Strava ➡️128.49km ⬆️917m ↗️7.1m/km ⏬KML & GPX. Skip World’s End & Saquish Neck to avoid gravel sections. Walk the soft sand short sections.

Nantasket Junction

South Shore Coastal Ride From Wompatuck. Route in research.

Kingston

Location 41.977508ºN 70.721863ºW

Alternate to Plymouth station depending on train schedule.

Plymouth

Location 41.9814ºN 70.6905ºW
  • Cranberry century. Annual event for Charles River Wheelers club. Connected with 100mi loop to meet with friends who started earlier. Coastal route, cranberry bogs, & good company. Finished in Middleborough station. 6 October 2019 9:27 on Garmin & Strava ➡️106.81km ⬆️662m ↗️6.2m/km ⏬KML & GPX.
  • Beat the ferry—fall edition. Cold, rain, snow, & sharks did not stop us from ocean plunge in the dark before board the last evening ferry of the season. Breakfast at Beth’s bakery. Mulled wine & warm dinner at The Canteen in Provincetown. 6 December 2019 8:14 on Garmin & Strava ➡️163.39km ⬆️1,113m ↗️6.8m/km ⏬KML & GPX.
  • Plymouth to Cape Cod canal. Route in research.

Bourne

Some of these rides actually started in Buzzards Bay, when Bourne station was not open. Crossing any of the Cape Cod canal bridges is dangerous. Now that Bourne station is open, it avoids the bridges for direct access to the Cape.

  • Shining Sea. The plan was for a casual visit with a friend during his vacation in Cape Cod, combined with a bicycle ride. It turned into a day full of scenic sites, delicious food, & great company. 27 July 2014 9:49 on Garmin ➡️132.4km ⬆️502m ↗️3.8m/km ⏬KML & GPX.
  • Family tour of Upper Cape. Labor Day weekend on the Shining Sea trail, Woods Hole, & Martha’s Vineyard. We had great weather, trip participants, & scenery for the two days. No matter Hurricane Hermine.
  • Beat the Ferry. Celebrated Fourth of July from shining sea trail to shining sea dip. The 200km double metric was a swoosh tour of the entire Cape. Sweeping ocean views, lighthouses, trails, bakeries, & rewarding ocean plunge. Challenge is to complete the entire ride in 10 hours or overall average of 20km/h. 4 July 2020 6:33 on Garmin & Strava ➡️201.43km ⬆️1,221m ↗️6.1m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

Hyannis

Location 41.655914ºN 70.280065ºW

Hyannis–Provincetown. Train, ferry, bicycle path, farmers’ market, salt water taffy, ice cream, bakeries, lighthouses, & many beaches to dip in. Despite the long distance, the ride can be complete by intermediate riders given the long day, mostly flat terrain, several breaks, & many supplies of freshly baked goods. 25 June 2016 10:37 on Garmin ➡️107.08km ⬆️622m ↗️5.8m/km ⏬KML & GPX.

Presidential Winter Traverse

Breathtaking.

In the days of Coronavirus, COVID-19, & social distancing, I was up close & personal with seven presidents: Pierce, Eisenhower, Monroe, Washington, Jefferson, Adams, & Madison.

No social distancing with presidents Pierce, Eisenhower, Monroe, Washington, Jefferson, Adams, & Madison
Location 44.270167ºN 71.303412ºW

Any climb above tree line in the White Mountains is high risk due to extreme weather conditions that can change any time at a moment notice. This traverse put me for nine hours in full exposure with nowhere to hide.

I started in early morning from AMC Highland Center on the historic Crawford Path, the oldest continuously-used mountain trail in America.

In 1819 Abel Crawford and his son, Ethan Allen, cleared this path to treeline near the top of Mt Clinton. Along this trail the Crawfords guided many groups to the summit of Mt Washington. The trail was improved to a bridle path in 1840 with Abel, then 75 years old, making the first ascent of Mt Washington by horseback. By 1870 this historic path reverted to its original use as a footpath to the heights.

White Mountains National Forest
Crawford Path to Mount Washington: the oldest in the country
Location 44.249287ºN 71.332213ºW

Trail was well used, packed, hard snow, & fast. Only shedding layers was slowing me. I was down to one layer, yet sweating in surrounding air temperature of -15ºC. That was below tree line. I arrived top of Mount Pierce well ahead of schedule by 5:12.

Hypothermia & shivers set in at first exposure to frigid wind above tree line in a few minutes. I wanted to add layers, but it was too late. My hands did not want to move.

Hypothermia & shivers at first exposure to -15°C wind above tree line on Mount Pierce
Location 44.226862ºN 71.365830ºW

I ran to hide in a sheltered spot between the trees away from the wind. This was the only moment on the traverse when I seriously considered the options to descend back to Highland Center or press the SOS button on Garmin inReach satellite communicator, unless the situation improved very quickly.

If you are going to fire off your locator beacon at the first sign of trouble, you shouldn’t be there in the first place.

Critical Hours: Search & Rescue in the White Mountains by Sandy Stott

Standing still was not an option. The longer I stopped the colder I was getting.

While my mind was racing through options, warming hands on abdomen & armpit skin revived some life in them to quickly reach for additional layers & insert heat packs into mittens.

Magic started to happen. Hands were back in full life to adjust layers, headlight, & camera.

I did not want to take any more chances. I moved fast to keep warm reaching Mount Eisenhower at first light of sun:

Mount Eisenhower: sun & warmth coming soon
Location 44.2406ºN 71.3503ºW

With sun shining warm on Lakes of the Clouds, I was ready to sit for large breakfast of Good To-go herbed mushroom risotto, Nestlé Milo hot cocoa, & home made Familia Swiss Müesli energy bars.

Large breakfast in warm sun by Lakes of the Clouds hut
Location 44.258428ºN 71.319145ºW

Next was the big cone. The north side was one massive block of solid ice. Crampons were the way to go for sure grip. Arrived the summit of Mount Washington by 9:06, three hours ahead of schedule.

Estimate was based on climb to Mount Washington a month earlier. Pace was 41’28/km vs an overall pace on this traverse of 23’32/km. Reasons for faster pace were likely:

  • Fewer stops to change layers & equipments. Once I was on the ridge, conditions stayed constant, other than quickly taking a vest off when ascending & putting it back on when descending.
  • Consistent terrain of hard snow & ice to use crampons all the way. I did not have to change between snowshoes, µspikes, & crampons.
  • More confidence in the environment to move faster based on experience from prior trips.

I was half way done: four peaks out of seven complete. The remaining three peaks were all lower than Washington. I could see them all in front of me: Jefferson, Adams, & Madison:

Location 44.271492ºN 71.304987ºW

A typical traverse starts north from Appalchia trailhead, as I did on my previous summer traverse. I switched direction this time to match wind direction of west-southwest, keeping it behind my back most of the day. In a small way, that helped my faster pace.

At Madison Spring hut, I was ready for another large meal of the same as breakfast. I sat on picnic benches soaking the afternoon sun for warmth.

Picnic rest stop by Madison Spring hut before fast descent to finish at Appalachia trailhead
Location 44.327853ºN 71.283280ºW

I had new energy to climb the final peak then sprint to the finish, running at times, to finish in less than twelve hours.

Route

Route log from 16 March 2020 3:35 recorded on Garmin Fēnix 6 & Strava:

➡️30.47km, ⏩23’32/km, 🔄11:56:53, ⬆️2,531m, ⬇️2,706m, ↗️83.1m/km, *️⃣3,623, 📶-5.8ºC, ⏬KML & GPX.

My log between the summits:

Lap Distance Pace Elevation
Highland to Pierce ➡️4.72km in 🔄1:33’12 ⏩19’45/km ⬆️793m ⬇️0m
Eisenhower ➡️2.58km in 🔄1:03’29 ⏩24’37/km ⬆️239m ⬇️105m
Monroe ➡️3.59km in 🔄1:25’32 ⏩23’51/km ⬆️352m ⬇️159m
Washington ➡️3.01km in 🔄1:31’24 ⏩30’25/km ⬆️411m ⬇️118m
Jefferson ➡️4.97km in 🔄1:59’09 ⏩23’59/km ⬆️264m ⬇️466m
Adams ➡️3.21km in 🔄1:19’18 ⏩24’41/km ⬆️289m ⬇️256m
Madison ➡️1.85km in 🔄1:04’49 ⏩35’05/km ⬆️176m ⬇️314m
Appalachia trailhead ➡️6.55km in 🔄2:00’00 ⏩18’20/km ⬆️7m ⬇️1,288m

Packing List

  • Gear
    • Crampons: used all day.
    • Ice axe: no particular technical use. In the hard ice, on steep climbs, it was a good walking stick. On some descents, I carried it for safety in case of slip.
    • Snow shoes: never used. I knew of the icy conditions. Yet, I carried them in case of urgent need for bail out on soft snow.
    • Ski googles: never used. Would have been useful in windy conditions.
    • Sunglasses
    • USB battery + cables: kept the battery warm, in a pocked, close to body. Batteries do not operate well in very cold temperature.
    • Garmin inReach mini: sent safety signal at each peak.
    • Bivy emergency sack
    • Backpack 45l: good size to fit all my gear.
    • Heat packs for hands & toes: 8 total
    • Gators, long: never used in icy conditions.
    • Heart rate belt
    • Temperature sensor
    • GPS watch
    • Phone + map app + route
    • Emergency knife, whistle, & mirror
    • Salt tablets
    • Headlight ×2
  • Clothes
    • Base wool layer: top & bottom
    • Middle layer ×2: top & bottom
    • Hard shell: top & bottom
    • Vest insulated
    • Balaclava ×2
    • Hat
    • Glove liner + medium weight gloves + heavy weight insulated mittens
    • Extra top layers ×3: wool
    • Face mask to cover nose & mouth from cold wind
    • Toe socks to prevent friction & blisters
  • Food:
    • Hot cocoa Milo in insulated bottles 3l total
    • Water 1l
    • Chocolate bar: of course
    • Good To-go packet of two servings in two insulated containers. Total 820 calories.

Mount Washington

Samir & John made my first hike above the tree line, in winter, in White Mountains. Thank you very much. It gave me the confidence & tools to plan the next two winter adventures on Franconia ridge & Presidential traverse.

We planned the trip weeks in advance. Climb was optional pending weather conditions. Otherwise, we would just ski in the area.

Indeed, target day on Saturday had hurricane wind in forecast all day. Climb was out of the question immediately. Sunday forecast, on the other hand, was looking nice: sunny, clear, & moderate wind. But only until early afternoon.

We needed to start early. Very early. We woke up at 1:30 to eat breakfast, drink coffee, & drive to Pinkham Notch trailhead. We were on the trail by 3:10.

We hardly used headlight with clear skies under full moon, blue light, & chilled air at -20ºC:

Full moon, blue light, & chilled air at -20ºC on ascent to Mount Washington
Location 44.263828ºN 71.289147ºW

Just ahead of steep climb to Lion Head, we changed from snowshoes to crampons & added layers. Tree line was coming soon. There would be no good options there to change in the wind.

We took a short break at Lion Head to put wind jackets, eat chocolate, & admire the blaze of fiery orange light with sunrise:

Blaze of fiery orange covers the avalanche terrain on Mount Washington climb

I had never been above tree line in the White Mountains in the winter. Reading accidents reports of 150 deaths in these mountains, I was anxious at best. This frightening ascent turned magnificent:

Frightening ascent turned magnificent to Mount Washington summit in unpredictable winter conditions

On the way out, noticed the mountain peak already in the cloud. Current conditions were “freezing fog & hurricane wind”.

Route log from 9 February 2020 3:10 recorded on Garmin Fēnix 6 & Strava:

➡️11.06km, ⏩41’28/km, 🔄7:38:20, ⬆️1,415m, ⬇️1,449m, ↗️127.9m/km, *️⃣2,395, 📶-13.1ºC, ⏬KML & GPX.

For the two days while in town, we found fuel at Vintage bakery for granola, molasses cookie, & baguette:

Vintage bakery granola, molasses cookie, & baguette
Location 44.110261ºN 71.182695ºW

Franconia Ridge

Now that I was comfortable with climbing in the winter above tree line, I wanted to climb Lafayette & walk on Franconia ridge:

Social distancing on Franconia Ridge

We took Bridal Path trail to Greenleaf hut, stopped there for food break, put on additional layers, & continued the climb to Lafayette.

We met several people returning short of reaching the summit, concerned about the wind & little traction from their µspikes. Wind was supposed to slow in late morning, as we reached the summit, & we were using crampons.

On the ridge, we had the wind in our back toward Lincoln & Little Haystack:

Lincoln
Location 44.1604ºN 71.6443ºW

Descent was quick on Falling Waters trail, with quick stop at Shining Rock:

Shining Rock on Falling Waters trail
Location 44.13935ºN 71.65167ºW

Route log from 15 March 2020 8:48 recorded on Garmin Fēnix 6 & Strava:

➡️13.70km, ⏩26’10/km, 🔄5:58:33, ⬆️1,356m, ⬇️1,367m, ↗️99.0m/km, *️⃣2,000, 📶-5.9ºC, ⏬KML & GPX.

Weather

Weather can be volatile & dangerous above tree line in the White Mountains. I was monitoring three sources regularly, multiple times a day, before attempting the Presidential traverse.

My favorite was NOAA chart: graphical, hourly, & fairly accurate within the next 48 hours.

Promising weather for social distancing on the mountains

The obvious one to check, at least for validation, is forecast from Mount Washington Observatory: descriptive, too technical for me, & only includes the next 48 hours.

Last was the Mountain Forecast: easy to read presentation of the data, but tends to be more optimistic compared with actual.

Plan Your Next Bicycle Adventure

I offered a presentation about bicycle travel, itineraries, route planning, gear and equipment, when to go, and other tips.

Members learned about different terrains, touring styles, budget options, bikepacking, & how to avoid unnecessary pain and discomfort. We discussed tour operators & suggested local options in Boston area.

It is as easy as:

  • Pick a date
  • Select a destination
  • Plan your route
  • Gather your gear
  • Go

Pick a Date

Decide to go on a bicycle adventure in the next 12 months.

  • Combine the trip with another event such as town festival, family reunion, wedding, or anniversary party.
  • Explore your neighborhood on a bicycle for historical sites, beaches, bakeries, wineries, views, & more.
  • Visit a destination from your bucket list.
  • Get inspired by stories from fellow travelers.

Select a Destination

I enjoy visits to bakery, lighthouse, chocolatier, beach, & mountain pass.

What would you like to visit? For inspiration:

Review some of the tours I have completed. Each include full details about the route, itinerary, packing list, & sights along the way. The map includes three layers for one day, weekend, & long trips.

Select the brackets on the top right corner of the map to open map in full view. On the left, you will see the list of layers. Select the ones you want to display. Many of the one day tours are long enough to be comfortably split into two or more days.

When you select a pin, it will display a link on the left to view full details about that tour.

Plan your Route

Start with a published route from Bikepacking, East Coast Greenway, Adventure Cycling, my tours, or from a friend.

There are many tools to create your own custom route. Popular ones include:

  • Ride with GPS: choose OSM Cycle map layer from the menu on top right corner of map. It presents more clear options for bicycle paths & highlighted routes.
  • Strava heat map based on massive user data about most common used routes. Use the route planner to make further choices about elevation, surface type, & others.
  • Komoot can plan the route for you based on choices for activity, surface type, destination, & fitness level.

Things to keep in mind the distance you can bicycle each day. Adventure Cycling prepared this chart for general consideration:

Surface Gear [pounds] Terrain Average Speed [MPH] Riding Time [hours] Distance [miles]
Road 20ish Flat 13 5 65
Hilly 10 5 50
40ish Flat 11 5 55
Hilly 8 5 40
Off-road 20ish Flat 10 5 50
Hilly 8 5 40
40ish Flat 8 5 40
Hilly 5 5 25
Rugged 20ish Flat 8 5 40
Hilly 5 5 25
40ish Flat 5 5 25
Hilly 3 5 15

Use the Guide to Planning your Bicycle Adventure for details about:

  • Bicycle
  • Distance
  • Training
  • Lodging
  • Safety
  • Technology
  • Packing list. For those curious how I can travel for multiple weeks with a handlebar bag only, a detailed packing list available from recent trip.

Gather your Gear

No special bike needed! Folding, steel, aluminum, carbon, & recumbent. Use the bike you already have.

Traditionally you mount racks & panniers to carry your gear. Some bicycles fit rack in front, rear, or both, depending on how much you want to carry.

Recently there have been many designs, referred to as bikepacking, to allow bags directly on the bicycle frame, handlebar, & saddle rails.

Backpack is not recommended due to stress on shoulders, arms, & back pain.

New England

Near to home there seem to be infinite supply of bakeries, lighthouses, historic sites, beaches, & view points for me to explore.

I keep a map of those already visited & still on the wish list. When I want to plan a trip, I open that map, then connect a few dots to visit.

Here are a few trips in the region I recommend:

Find your own path on bicycle to what you like most.

Contact

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Paris

Paris was the main attraction on trip 14–22 February 2020 that also included visits to Amsterdam & Brussels: museums, art, architecture, stained glass, metro, chocolate, & bakeries. This was only days before the COVID-19 pandemic escalated globally, shutting down flights & borders.

BRU–CDG

We did not have a set itinerary, except for a list of sites that we wanted to visit. A few weeks before the trip, I marked several destinations on a map based on recommendations from Lonely Planet travel guide:

Each day, I would look at the map, connect a few sites, then walk or take the metro between them. We had purchased a metro pass for three days, unlimited rides within the city, about €25.

We arrived Tuesday 18 February 2020 afternoon on express train from Brussels, reaching maximum speed 323.8km/h.

Hotel, booked through Hotwire, was a close walking distance from Gare du Nord train station. We stopped by briefly to check in & drop off bags. We continued for another walk uphill to La Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre dedicated to the Sacred Heart:

La Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre dedicated to the Sacred Heart
Location 48.884572ºN, 2.343170ºE

Huge crowds roamed the grounds around the church, visited the tourist shops, & clipped love locks on the railing.

I was mainly looking for stained glass. It had a few panels. Notre Dame Cathedral was still closed after the fire on 15 April 2019.

The grand prize was at Sainte-Chapelle dazzling stained glass panes arranged across 15 windows, each 15m high, depict 1,113 scenes from the Old and New Testaments:

Sainte-Chapelle dazzling stained glass panes arranged across 15 windows, each 15m high, depict 1,113 scenes from the Old and New Testaments
Location 48.855397ºN, 2.344942ºE

I could have stared at those panes for hours. The boys were ready for the next spot.

There was always a bakery nearby. No need to search for one on a map. While walking, all we needed was just to start looking. Within five minutes, there was a very high chance that we would find a boulangerie with fresh baguettes, no matter time of day, until they close in mid afternoon.

Earlier, we had quiche chevre epinard at Huré: créateur de plaisir:

Quiche chevre epinard à Huré: créateur de plaisir
Location 48.8548ºN, 2.3501ºE

We even took a special trip to Du Pain et des Idées for escargot chocolat pistache:

Escargot chocolat pistache at Du Pain et des Idées
Location 48.871219ºN, 2.362882ºE

Or really anything with chocolate & pistachio:

Côte d'Or chocolat noir pistaches caramélisées

When we arrived Paris, inside Gare du Nord was Five Guys burgers, so we were determined to have lunch there at some point during the trip. Even better, we found one on Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

We walked to visit Arc de Triomphe:

Five Guys burger & Arc de Triomphe on Avenue des Champs-Élysées
Location 48.873597ºN, 2.295542ºE

There was a short line, for about 15 minutes, to climb to the top.

Continued from there to visit Eiffel Tower:

CDG–BOS

Wait here was much longer to pass several queues, first security check to get into the grounds, then elevator passes. We stayed on top for a while as the sun set just to see city lights & Arc de Triomphe in the distance:

324m
Location 48.858345ºN, 2.294583ºE

The view of the tower was enchanting from any direction:

Climb to the top
Location 48.858345ºN, 2.294583ºE

Dinner was back on Avenue des Champs-Élysées for mini galettes fourrées mozza, tomates confites, basilic at Framboise crêperie:

Mini galettes fourrées mozza, tomates confites, basilic

We dedicated most of next day to visit Louvre museum with enough time to view La Liberté guidant le peuple:

La Liberté guidant le peuple
Location 48.860611ºN, 2.337644ºE

And of course the Mona Lisa, after a long queue for close look.

Later we stopped by Place de la Bastille:

Place de la Bastille
Location 48.853158ºN, 2.369633ºE

We attempted to see a show at Cirque d’hiver Bouglione. Good seats were not available at short notice.

Amsterdam

Our first stop on the trip was in Amsterdam, on a direct flight from Boston on Friday 14 February 2020 at 19:27 to arrive next morning Saturday at 8:30.

BOS–AMS

We took the train to Centraal station, dropped bags in Airbnb apartment, & then walked around town. Stopped at Bake my Day bakery for olive, raisin, & cheese breads:

Bake my Day #bakery olive, raisin, & cheese bread
Location 52.380097ºN, 4.892487ºE

We tried some sugar to stay awake, Karamel fudge met zeezout at Van Wonderen Stroopwafels:

Karamel fudge met zeezout at Van Wonderen Stroopwafels
Location 52.3665978ºN, 4.8874837ºE

It worked for a while. After a short nap, we continued the walk between narrow tilted buildings, canals, & bridges through Amsterdam centrum:

Narrow tilted buildings, canals, & bridges through Amsterdam centrum
Location 52.3748ºN, 4.8993ºE

Next day we went for more walks, canals, & Rijksmuseum.

Lunch was Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx with oorlog mix: mayonnaise + satay sauce + onions:

Vlaams Friteshuis Vleminckx with oorlog mix: mayonnaise + satay sauce + onions
Location 52.367858ºN, 4.890913ºE

Dinner was with friends living in the area.

We went for massive chocolate shopping at Tony’s Chocolonely, before taking the train to Brussels.

Brussels

We stopped in Brussels overnight, less than 24 hours, on our way to Paris.

Most sites were near Hôtel de Ville de Bruxelles:

Hôtel de Ville de Bruxelles
Location 50.846572ºN, 4.352722ºE

From the train station, we walked to the boy Manneken Pis:

Manneken Pis
Location 50.844970ºN, 4.349838ºE

The girl Jeanneke Pis:

Jeanneke Pis
Location 50.8486ºN, 4.3541ºE

And the dog Zinneke-Pis:

Zinneke-Pis
Location 50.8487ºN, 4.3457ºE

We had an extended visit to Tintin boutique & musée for some memorabilia:

Tintin boutique & musée imaginaire
Location 50.846734ºN, 4.353574ºE

Chocolat

We had plenty of opportunities to enjoy good Belgian chocolate, some just from the shelves of markets, like Côte d’Or chocolat noir toute la générosité et le fondant du praliné noisettes:

Côte d'Or #chocolat noir toute la générosité et le fondant du praliné noisettes

And some specialty Neuhaus chocolate, birthplace of the Belgian praline:

Neuhaus chocolaterie: birthplace of the Belgian praline
Location 50.847525ºN, 4.35491ºE